Seasonal Gardening: Irrigation Aid, Cross Pollinating Chile Peppers and Garlic Sprays for Mildew

The Seasons of the Garden column shares seasonal gardening news briefs on mulch as irrigation aid, cross pollinating chile peppers and garlic sprays for mildew.

| July/August 1985

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    Hortideas editors Greg and Pat Williams, new authors of The Seasons of the Garden column for MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

  • 094-130-01i1

A couple of months ago, John Quinney, the executive director of the New Alchemy Institute (and the man who wrote our permaculture mini-manual in MOTHER EARTH NEWS N0. 88), wrote us to heartily recommend a little-known newsletter called HortIdeas . . . a twelve-page monthly compendium of research briefs, book reviews, and product rundowns, all written for the backyard gardener! When we got hold of a couple issues of that paper, we decided to call its editors and ask them if they like to write our Seasons of the Garden column on a regular basis. 

So here are Greg and Pat Williams. We hope you'll welcome the to MOTHER as eagerly as we do! 

Seasonal Gardening Research Briefs

If you can't irrigate in that dry spell, mulch! You've got a drought and no easy way to get water to a suffering tree; can anything be done? Sure . . . mulch it! In trials with sour cherry trees over a three-year period at Michigan State University, experimenters found no significant differences in growth between irrigated, unmulched trees and unirrigated trees mulched with black plastic, straw, or crushed corncobs. So if you can't water, at least mulch.

If you have plants outdoors in containers, beware of dark-colored pots! Investigations at the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station have shown that root temperatures can reach levels causing reduced growth or even death of the root tips when plants are set in full sun in black containers.

Chile peppers cross-pollinate readily. According to geneticists at New Mexico State University, cross-pollination among chile peppers is the rule rather than—as commonly thought—the exception. When cross pollinating chile peppers strict measures (e.g., bagging the flowers on each plant) are necessary to assure genetic purity if you're growing more than one pepper cultivar and planning to save some seeds.

"Acupuncture" for corn? Amateur researchers in the Pacific Northwest report earlier ripening and extra sweetness when a toothpick is stuck through the base of the ear stem of a sweet corn plant and on into the main stalk just above the joint. This should be done when the silk is still green. The reasoning behind corn acupuncture? Sugars concentrate near plant wounds.

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